Defensive Landscaping:  How to Protect your Home’s Exterior

While it may not look like much right now, soon your landscape will come back to life.  Before that happens, you’ll want to ensure that everything’s in place—not just for looks, but also for protection.  Using trees, shrubs, and plants to enhance your home’s curb appeal is one thing, but allowing it to run amok is quite another. Dense vegetation with insufficient space can trap moisture in the foundation or siding of your house, creating expensive issues down the road.  Fortunately, there are some simple outdoor maintenance steps you can take that will preserve your landscape, as well as your home’s integrity.


1. Create space


This applies everywhere! Try to keep low-hanging branches away from the roof line and/or siding.  Also, prune back those shrubs or other aggressive greenery that are growing too close to your siding.  We all love the look of sprawling ivy clinging to old manor-style homes, but, in reality, that ivy is creeping into cracks or crevices around the property—ultimately weakening its structural integrity.  So, if you want to incorporate a climbing plant like ivy, it’s best to establish a separate trellis, a safe distance from the house.

Pay special attention to the foundation, where excess dirt and moisture can be especially detrimental. Experts recommend ensuring that you have adequate clearance between your ground level and siding—usually this means 6 to 8 inches.  So, as the soil shifts over time, you may have to level it back, or lower your mulching to prevent rot or pest infestations.


2. Monitor the grading


Winter weather may have created pattern or slope changes in your lawn, which can direct water toward your home, rather than away from it.  Sometimes correcting this can be a simple matter of applying new sod, but other times you’ll have to replace downspouts or even drain lines to protect your home from flooding.

If it’s a consistent problem, you may want to add some rock features to help direct the flow of water, or even install a retaining wall that incorporates some interesting design elements.  You don’t necessarily want to work against the natural grade of your landscape; merely redirect it away from your home, well lines, and/or septic system, where standing water is likely to cause the most damage.


3. Out with the old, in with the new


Now, this obviously doesn’t apply to everything.  Mature trees and shrubs can be a great asset to any property—provided they’re well-maintained and healthy.  What you want to address, as quickly as possible, are any dead or decaying plants that could potentially damage your exterior.  Whether that’s an old tree that could blow into your home as some point, or dying shrubs that not only look bad, but also attract all sorts of pests and moisture in the vicinity—it’s best to just remove it.

For larger elements, you may have to call in the professionals, but a little extra expense now could save you a lot of money and inconvenience down the road.  Not to mention, a dead landscape doesn’t look very good.  Spring should mark the return of vibrant greenery.  If your foliage is looking a little lackluster these days, it may be time to replace a few key plants.

After all, the last thing you want when installing new siding or roofing it to see it damaged so quickly by its surroundings.  Additionally, you want to highlight these improvements to your exterior with attractive landscaping that emphasizes the changes—not detracts from them.  While we can’t help you with the landscaping portion, we can give you tips to make the most of your investment.



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